Pioneer Electronics announced last week that it would sell its home theater entertainment business to audio equipment maker Onkyo. Last night I chatted with Russ Johnston, who serves as executive vice president of Pioneer America for Marketing and Corporate Communications, to get the straight scoop about what's really going on with the deal.
Over the past few months Pioneer navigated a series of changes in an effort to maintain the brand across the changing marketplace in the home AV sector. Johnston said: "As of today Pioneer will be integrating its business into a new company with Onkyo. Onkyo would be the majority shareholder; Pioneer would be a minority shareholder. Over the next 30 days or so Onkyo and Pioneer will finalize the agreement, and by the end of our fiscal year in March 2015, Pioneer and Onkyo would have a full integration plan in place."
That's the business plan. Basically Pioneer and Onkyo will combine forces and resources to better keep pace with the fast changing AV market. Johnston said it would be impossible for Pioneer to do that on its own. The Pioneer brand will continue, the AV receivers, Blu-ray players, speakers, etc. aren't going away. Onkyo will follow the same course with its home AV products. Johnston was quick to acknowledge that as the two sister companies move forward maintaining distinct and separate brand identities will be essential.
The highly regarded Andrew Jones Pioneer home theater speakers and the about to be released SP-SB03 Speaker Base sound bar will continue, so from the consumer's point of view nothing will change in the near future. The ultra high-end TAD division will remain with the Pioneer corporation.
As for AV receivers, the top five brands, in no particular order are Onkyo, Denon, Pioneer, Sony and Yamaha, and now combining Pioneer and Onkyo's resources should yield benefits to consumers.
When I questioned Johnston about how long it would take before the next generation of Pioneer products would reflect the changes now taking place he said, "If you were looking at a traditional planning process, the 2016 products are close to being finished right now." So it will take a while before the fruits of the combined forces of Pioneer and Onkyo will be evident to consumers.